Work Night Dinner: Lemon Pepper Salmon and Roasted Broccoli

If you ask my son, Bear, what his favorite food is he will typically say salmon. And he means it. Whenever I make salmon he will eat at least a half pound by himself (at age 6). I can’t imagine how much he will eat as a teenager! If I ever ask what he would like for dinner while I’m meal planning, he’ll request salmon. So, we eat salmon at least 3-4 times a month.

Bear eating his massive piece of salmon.

Ladybug can do a number on salmon as well, hence why we have to buy 2 lbs of salmon for our family of four!

Ladybug eats her fair share too.

I sometimes hear from friends that they do not like fish but that they especially do not like salmon. I think in most cases that means they do not like poorly cooked fish and salmon is often very, very poorly cooked. Typically, it is way overdone which makes it taste fishy. Properly cooked salmon does not have that overly fishy taste. Moral of the story: Don’t overcook salmon and you may actually like it (or love it)!

Today I am sharing the way I cook salmon most often. This recipe is great for when you want to have a light, healthy dinner that is made quickly on one pan. If you wanted a heartier meal, you could add some roasted potatoes as well.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 to 2 lbs fresh salmon
  • Lemon pepper or other seasoning mix
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
    • substitute with olive oil or ghee to make Whole30 compliant
  • 3-4 slices of fresh lemon
  • 3 crowns broccoli
  • Olive
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Recipe:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Open up a bottle of rosé and pour yourself a glass
  3. Put down a layer of foil to cover half of a large baking tray
  4. Place the salmon skin side down on the foil
  5. Sprinkle a nice layer of lemon pepper or other seasoning mix directly on the salmon
  6. Cut pads of butter and lemon slices
  7. Arrange butter and lemon slices on top of salmon
  8. Place another layer of foil on top of the salmon
  9. Roll the edges of the foil together to create a packet around the salmon
  10. Cut florets of broccoli off the broccoli crowns
  1. Place broccoli on the other half of the pan
  2. Drizzle broccoli with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and lemon pepper or other seasoning mix
  3. Place pan in oven for 30 minutes
    • 30 minutes will give you salmon that is cooked just all the way through. If you like more of a medium rare cook, reduce the time to 20-25 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes, open foil packet and slice salmon
    • The salmon should be moist and tender, not firm.
  5. Use a turner/flipper to slide between the salmon and skin so you can serve it skinless
  6. Add broccoli to the plate and serve

And just like that, a healthy dinner is done and on the table!

Happy cooking!

Mel

Roasted Root Veggies with Rosemary Chicken

This recipe is based on one of our favorites from the Whole 30 Cookbook.  I adapted it to use ingredients I’m more likely to have on hand (bacon instead of pancetta), to use only one pan (because why dirty two?), and to use radishes that I can grow in my garden (the little color pop they give is really pretty).  This is a perfect fall or winter work night dinner.  Yes, you’ll need about 15 minutes or so to chop the veggies but that is really all the hands on time necessary.  Then you have 30 minutes (while the one pan dinner cooks) to play with the kids or do whatever else you need to.

When roasting chicken, I prefer chicken thighs but I have included information in the recipe on how you can use chicken breasts if that is all you have on hand.  If you are using chicken breasts for this recipe, check out how I make my chicken breast so much better by beating them.

This recipe calls for 1-2 pieces of bacon.  You might be thinking, “Why would I open a whole pack of bacon for one piece?”  But that’s not what I do most of the time.  If we have bacon sometime during a weekend for breakfast, I frequently hoard a piece or two in a plastic baggie to cook with the rest of the week.

If you see radishes on the ingredient list and think “I’m out” please hear me out: roasted radishes taste completely different than raw.  They have a much milder taste when cooked that is very similar to other root vegetables.  I learned this when a good friend was telling me how she steams her radishes with butter for her kids who eat them faster than she can make a second batch.  I’d basically avoided radishes since was a kid up until she told me that.  And those cooked radishes were apparently a gateway into radish loving for me because now I can’t get enough of them, cooked or raw.

So try it out and let me know what you think!

Happy cooking!

IMG_3287

Roasted Root Veggies with Rosemary Chicken
This one pan dinner is perfect on a fall or winter work night. If you don’t have bacon, substitute olive oil. If you don’t have fresh rosemary or a lemon, salt and pepper will be just fine. (But the lemon and rosemary do make it extra special.)
Ingredients
  • 1 peeled sweet potato
  • 1 peeled rutabaga
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 parsnips
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2-1 bunch, depending on size/preference radishes
  • 1-2 slices bacon
  • 3-6, depending on size chicken thighs or breasts
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 1 lemon lemon zest
  • 1 garlic clove
  • salt
  • pepper
Instructions
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2) Cut onion into half moon slices
3) Chop vegetables (peeled sweet potato, peeled rutabaga, peeled parsnip, carrot, and radishes) into 3/4 inch cubes
4) Chop bacon into 1/2 in pieces
5) Combine vegetables, onion, and bacon in a shallow roasting pan or cookie sheet with edgesIMG_3270
6) Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to combine
7) Cover with foil
8) Bake for 10 minutes
9) While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the chicken. If using chicken breasts, put them in a plastic zip loc bag and flatten them to 3/4 in thick. If using chicken thighs, no flattening is needed.
10) Zest lemon
11) Chop fresh rosemary
12) Mince garlic clove
13) Combine lemon zest, rosemary, and garlic and run your knife through them together a few timesIMG_3280
14) Once 10 minutes is up on veggies, uncover the pan and mix the veggies. Push chicken pieces down into the pan, removing the large veggies from underneath them. (The occasional onion or bacon under the chicken won’t do anything but good.)IMG_3281
14) Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and lemon/rosemary/garlic mixture
15) Roast chicken and veggies uncovered for 30-40 minutes
16) Serve with lemon wedges from the lemon you zested
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Details

Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings plus leftovers for lunches

 

How I am surviving (and thriving) during a Whole 30

Originally written 9/18/17

A good friend of mine and her husband decided they were going to do the Whole 30 program for 30 days and asked if Beast and I wanted to join them.  My gut answer: Absolutely not.  We’ve done diet tune ups several times over the last few years.  All of them seemed overly restrictive in some areas (how can fruit really be that bad for you?) and way too inclusive in some areas (I can’t have fruit but I can have bacon bits rolled up in cream cheese?).  I usually last a few days and then Beast powers through until the end.

Because my friend is a good one, I thought I’d look into the program before I told her a strong no.  After just a little research it was pretty clear that this was something I could actually get behind.  Basically it is a 30 day diet tune up that has you focus on real food and helps you identify problem areas in your diet.  You eliminate alcohol, dairy, sugar, and grains but can have proteins and almost all fruits and veggies so it doesn’t feel too restrictive.

We’ve been doing it for over a week now and it hasn’t been that bad at all in terms of overall effort and the food we’ve been eating is really good and satisfying.  Now don’t get me wrong, I would love a baguette, a whole wheel of cheese, and a big home pour of Cabernet right now.  But I feel good and know I will be able to have those things in moderation once this 30 day period is over.

I already know some areas that are my weak points (apparently I tend to carbo-load during my kids’ nap time like I’m going to run a marathon when they wake up).  Shopping and reading all the labels of things you buy to see if they are compliant makes you realize how much sugar is added in tons of foods.  While I think we eat very healthy the vast majority of the time, realizing all those little extras in our meals (sugar, dairy, grains) aren’t always necessary or really good for us has been helpful for sure.

So, overall I would say I’m looking forward to the next 22 days and I’m happy with how I am feeling and eating.

Here are a few quick tips I’ve learned over the last couple of weeks preparing for this challenge and then in the first week of the program.

1) Read the basics and go through some recipes.  I borrowed the original Whole 30 Book from a co-worker and read the basis of the program, which helped me to understand the WHYs behind the different rules.  It also gives you a FAQ guide and timeline for certain things you might be feeling as you go through the program.  Both very helpful.  Finally, it has some recipes to get you started. I also bought the Whole 30 Cookbook, which gave me even more recipes and ideas for my meal planning.  The program website (www.whole30.com) is also very helpful and has everything you would really need to know available for free.

This egg dish is from page 12 of the Whole 30 Cookbook (Bistro Breakfast Salad).  It was delicious and a nice way to have something on the lighter side since I’m not a big fan of a gigantic breakfast most mornings.

2) Get some pantry/fridge basics that you will want to have on hand for your 30 days.  For me, coffee creamer, salad dressing, mayo, and spice mixes (including taco seasoning) were a must.  I’ve been really happy with these products.

3) Think through how you can modify your current recipes to be compliant.  Probably a lot of what you make would be just fine if you substituted things for something else (rice for cauliflower rice) or removed added sugar (remove maple syrup from a meat marinade that has otherwise compliant ingredients).  Something that has been a big hit is my go-to taco meat.  I make it as usual other than substituting the regular taco seasoning for a compliant one and not deglazing the pan with a beer.  Instead of serving with rice and beans, I just made twice the amount of meat.  Beast and I ate it with butter lettuce leaves (double them up so your tacos don’t break on you) and got some mini soft tortilla boats for the kids.  They had cheese and sour cream since we had them in the fridge but we didn’t.  It was satisfying and easy modify a recipe that was already in my repertoire.

4) Meal plan a week at a time.  One of the biggest complaints I hear about this and similar programs is how many times people have to go to the grocery store.  What has worked for us is doing a meal planning session where I look through cookbooks and online to decide what we want to have.  As I add items to our meal plan, I add what we would need to our grocery list.  I go to the grocery store on Friday (one of my days off) and then one more time during the week, if needed, to get anything remaining that we maybe didn’t have enough of.  More apples, bananas, onions, or compliant snacks seem to be what we’ve needed on the second trip.  Some people use fancy templates or boards for meal planning.  I use a plain white sheet of paper from my printer and a clip board hung up in my pantry.  Not fancy, but it works.

5) Get some La Croix.  Sparkling water has been my go to when I just plain need something other than water.  Most grocery stores will have lots of flavors on hand.  Coconut has been my favorite and Cherry Lime has been Beast’s.  It has no calories or sweeteners so it is completely compliant.  I think it gives me just a little taste of sweet when I am having a craving.  We’ll be keeping it on hand after these 30 days for sure.

6) Make enough for leftovers.  If you are going to the effort of making great meals every night, give yourself a little break at lunch the next day by making enough at dinner time for leftovers.  This had made things during the day pretty easy.  For instance, I had leftover taco meat that I took to work.  I went to the salad bar to get some greens and tomatoes, topped it with my leftover taco meat, and had a compliant taco salad with minimal effort.

So those are the things that are helping me not only survive Whole 30 but appreciate what I am learning through it.  Hope that helps anyone thinking about doing it!

Happy cooking!